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Physical activity has positive effect on the brain

With Mental Health Awareness Week coming up in October, it’s a good time to take a closer look at the link between physical activity and the brain.

A recent Science Daily article unpacks research that found moderate physical activity has a positive effect on the brain.

The research is led by Dr. Ahmad Aziz and found that certain areas of the brain are larger in physically active individuals than in those who are less active.

"Our study results indicate that even small behavioral changes, such as walking 15 minutes a day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, may have a substantial positive effect on the brain and potentially counteract age-related loss of brain matter and the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Older adults can particularly profit from modest increases of low intensity physical activity." says Dr Aziz.

Learn more about Dr Aziz's research on the positives of physical activity on our brains.

View the September/October 2022 issue of the Active Canterbury Network Newsletter online.

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Play Wellbeing Bingo!

New research from Sport NZ’s Active NZ survey shows that while physical activity rates have rebounded to some degree since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it isn’t happening across the board. Lack of motivation was found to be a key barrier.

Sport New Zealand recently relaunched its iconic 90’s Push Play campaign to address these findings. The aim is to get New Zealanders to add more movement into their day-to-day lives.

The Active Canterbury Network has developed an activation called Wellbeing Bingo to encourage Cantabrians to start moving move - to support the Push Play message locally.

Participants choose from a Families/Whānau card or an Individual card. Each card has a total of 25 activities with a focus on exploring nature, visiting new places, trying new things and easy ways to move.

The aim is to complete 5 activities each week for 5 weeks. There are weekly prize draws and a final prize draw. Prizes include gym vouchers, free classes, pool passes, outdoor experiences, sports gear and spot prizes!

View the July/August 2022 issue of the Active Canterbury Network Newsletter online.

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Pandemic impacts participation

Sport NZ published a study into the impact of COVID-19 which shows the pandemic has severely affected participation in physical activity across the country. The study involved a series of surveys of between 2,500 and 4,500 adults (18 years and older) between April 2020 and April 2021.

The study found there was a decrease in the number of physical activities that people participated in each week, a decline in the amount of time spent being active, a significant drop in the number of adults meeting the physical activity recommendations and an impact on habitual physical activity.

View the May/June 2022 issue of the Active Canterbury Network Newsletter online.

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The Power of Play!

Languishing. It's a term that might describe how you are feeling right now!

Languishing is a state of apathy, a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy. "The constant mental workout of living through a pandemic and coping with the effects of that begins to take its toll", says Dr Dougal Sutherland – a clinical psychologist at Victoria University of Wellington.

The good news is there are many simple things we can do to boost our mental wellbeing. One great way is to incorporate more play and fun into each day!

View the March/April 2022 issue of the Active Canterbury Network Newsletter online.

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Motivation to Move!

When you love to be active and exercise, it can be hard to understand why other people don't feel the same way! However, for most people, exercise is not a natural or easy thing to do - even when they know it's good for them! Why is this?

Nicky Pellegrino provides some excellent insights in her recent Listener article 'Survival of the Fittest' (15th-21st January 2022 issue - Why We Hate To Exercise). She interviews Harvard paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman, who has spent time observing the Hadza - a hunter-gather society living in northern Tanzania. Lieberman comments, "We've created a world in which physical activity is now voluntary and so we have to do this very strange, abnormal thing that runs counter to our basic fundamental instincts - unnecessary, unrewarding physical activity".

He goes on to say that while we are "hardwired to conserve energy", there are strategies we can employ to "drum up the motivation to move".

View the February 2022 issue of the Active Canterbury Network Newsletter online.

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The way we think about physical activity has changed

Every cloud has a silver lining, so the saying goes! And it appears there have been a number of positives to come out of the current COVID-19 pandemic in regard to physical activity and exercise. In many cases, living in lockdown and learning to adjust to alert levels has altered our feelings towards physical activity for the better. Daily exercise became the one constant, providing structure and routine against a backdrop of an ever-changing news cycle.

Not only has the way we feel about physical activity changed, but so has the way we think about it. Let's take a closer look at how the pandemic has altered attitudes and the implications this has for activity providers in future.

View the September/October 2021 issue of the Active Canterbury Network Newsletter online.

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